Warning after M1 breakdown

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Following the recent spate of accidents on the Bedfordshire section of the M1 a T&C reader has warned of the potential dangers of using the hard shoulder as a regular motorway lane.

Car dealership director Michael Bolsom recalls the frightening night his car broke down on the Toddington-to-Luton stretch when traffic was using the hard shoulder.

He said: “I pulled over as far as I could and put the hazard warning lights on.

“I tried to restart the car but it wouldn’t so I got out, and got behind the barrier.

“It was a dark night, and all I could hear was braking lorries and coaches skidding to avoid the car.

As I walked to the services, I kept expecting to hear a crunch at any moment. It was quite frightening.”

Mr Bolsom called his fellow director at Vicarage Autos, in Bedford, Mark Waldon, to get him to report the incident as his phone battery was low.

Mr Waldon said he advised the police and Highways Agency about the breakdown and was concerned about the time taken to warn other drivers the car was broken down in the lane.

He added: “I think it is most dangerous using the hard shoulder as a lane.”

This break down, earlier in the year, did not cause any collisions and the car was recovered.

A Highways Agency spokesperson said: “A smart motorway uses a range of innovative technology combined with new operating procedures to actively control traffic flow.

“Techniques such as varying the speed limits and making the hard shoulder available to traffic are features of smart motorways all designed to make journey times more reliable, improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.

We also know that using the hard shoulder can be done without worsening safety.”

She added in the case of an emergency, if you cannot leave the motorway (to the hard shoulder on a slip road, a motorway service area or off the network completely), you should try to get to an emergency refuge area.

“From here, contact our staff via the emergency roadside telephone for help and information.

“If you stop in a live lane, call the emergency services. We will use the signs and signals to close lanes in order to protect the stranded vehicle until help arrives. We may close lanes to allow access for emergency vehicles.”

For more information about smart motorways go to www.highways.gov.uk/smart
motorways